As a medical doctor and naturopathist for more than 15 years, I’ve seen, counseled and treated thousands of cases involving different types of cancer, a lot already on Stage 3 and Stage 4.

In the cases of Stage 3 and Stage 4 cancers, a great majority have tried conventional cancer treatments of either chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. And as you might have guessed by now – none of them have lasting effects, meaning either the cancer went away only for a few months to a year – what we call “remission” – then came back. When it came back, it is sometimes more virulent than when it started – and more often, the cancer would have metastasized to other parts of the body, usually the lymph nodes.

Yet, with all the hullabaloo and the marketing of “conventional cancer treatments”, hardly anybody discusses the “long-term consequences of Cancer and its treatments”. Perhaps only a few in my time and here in the country. With astronomical prices of conventional cancer treatments now, people just focus on the “how much” but not on the “at what cost” will our patient have to undergo in order to get cured through your treatment.

So let me rattle a few statistics based on a UK scientific study conducted in 2013 by the MacMillan Support Group, peer-reviewed, on the long-term effects and consequences — both physical, emotional and mental — of conventional treatments on cancer patients. I am quoting these statistics because it shows how wide-reaching and serious are the “post-cancer treatment effects” are. I also corroborate these statistics with my personal experience as a cancer specialist.

At least half a million UK-based people or approximately 1 in 4 (25%) of those who have been diagnosed with cancer face “poor health or disability after treatment with cancer”. These long-term effects encompass both physical and psychological effects.

What are these long-term health effects of cancer treatment?

According to the UK study, there are:

* 350,000 people are experiencing chronic fatigue with and beyond cancer.

* Another 350,000 are experiencing sexual difficulties.

* 200,000 at least are living with severe to moderate pain after treatment.

* Around 240,000 are experiencing mental health problems which can range from severe to moderate depression to anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And also around 150,000 have urinary problems such as incontinence.

*Around 90,000 are having gastrointestinal problems including diarrhea, fecal incontinence, and bleeding. Almost 63,000 are having lymphedema (consistent tissue swelling caused by fluid retention usually in the legs or arms).

All these problems may start from the first day of post-treatment or may erupt months after treatment. Some effects can continue for at least 10 years or more.

And then there are other problems – chronic nausea, difficulty swallowing, feeling like you’ve been burned to a crisp inside although you look fine outside (comment of one of the chemo patients), heart disease problems (Herceptin or chemotherapy uses anthracycline drugs that can increase the risk of heart disease), body image problems – the number and type of health problems are endless!

But one of the more striking problems is the “effect it has on the economic security of the patient”. We’re talking about disrupted household incomes because the head of the household can’t go to work or have difficulty going to work because of the side effects of cancer treatment. The UK study said that almost half (48% of respondents) were not physically able to return to the same jobs, and 1 in 3 (33%) said they did not feel emotionally strong enough to go to work.

Another information:

And if you can’t go to work, how are you going to pay for your treatments? See our other story here on the high cost of cancer treatment

Unfortunately, I cannot answer all these questions by myself. But what I can do is I can hold your hand and guide you with a treatment that is humane, painless and not damaging to the body’s already compromised immune system.

Have you or your family had a personal experience with the long-term consequences of conventional cancer treatment? Share with us in the comments below.

Image by DarkoStojanovic / CC BY 2.0